In reading all of the online reviews about the Game of Thrones finale, I was struck by one overarching theme – you just can’t please everyone. In that regard, it reminded me a lot of employment litigation. Spoiler alert!
Some fans thought the ending was too clean and tidy, too happy in some respects, with Sansa crowned Queen of the North, Arya heading off to new adventures (and likely a spinoff), Tyrion running things for the new Broken King, and weary Jon Snow finding comfort in his wildling friends and reunited with an earless Ghost.
- Litigation parallel: With any litigation, there are lots of skirmishes and battles along the way, but generally one side winds up with a happier ending than the other. And more often than not, a win isn’t a full win given the costs along the way.
Other fans thought certain plot lines were too contrived, and untethered to the past seven seasons of character development. For example, Daenerys’ decline into the evil mad queen, and Grey Worm’s plummet into a heartless assassin.
- Litigation parallel: Reminds me of how often a judge, jury, or even opposing counsel focuses on some random bit of evidence or case law, but not the exact evidence or precedent you wanted them to, leading them to a different spin on the outcome from what you intended. “How did they read my carefully crafted brief and come up with that?” we often wonder.
Still even more fans posted, blogged and tweeted their frustration that the writers were not “getting it right” and had botched the entire last epic season. Why would Jamie go back to Cersei? Why on earth was Tyrion being so stupid if he was supposed to be the smartest guy in Westeros? Why didn’t Cersei just kill all of her enemies when she had the chance and they were all just standing there in front of her? Why were there still gratuitous brothel scenes for goodness sakes after all of the cries about misogyny in the series? And why on earth was Rhaegal killed so easily by the Iron Fleet, yet Drogon managed to evade every single scorpion bolt? Fans were disappointed, so much that many petitioned HBO for a season 8 do-over.
- Litigation parallel: Ah, the illusion of control. In litigation we try to control the court, opposing counsel, the witnesses, and our clients. But as hard as we try, some (or all) of the above can go rogue. And as litigators we can plan, but we certainly can’t fully control the outcome. As I often tell clients, in litigation there is no 100%, even with strong facts I still discount chance of success to 80%.
Game of Thrones was a lot like employment litigation. Lots of unpredictable twists and turns. A good result for some, but not all. Often a high price for what you get. Limited emotional satisfaction, even when you ultimately prevail.
One could sum up the Game of Thrones ultimate theme as: There must be a better way than endless war and male heirs with birthrights. But the suggestion from Tarly that the people choose a leader was met with hearty guffaws from the elite leaders. Sure sounds like parties in litigation to me. Give up my sense of right and wrong to compromise for the greater good? No way!
I guess that’s why litigation is here to stay. But don’t kid yourself, the ending will likely be less satisfying than you think.